Techniques for Soldering Stained Glass

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The trick to successful stained glass soldering is moving quickly enough so that glass does not absorb the heat and crack. Use either copper or lead to solder pieces of glass together with helpful instruction from an experienced glass artist in this free video on glass crafts.

Part of the Video Series: Stained Glass Techniques
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Video Transcript

Hi my name is Shanon Materio and I'm here at McMow Art Class and today we're going to learn about soldering stained glass. I have a piece here on the table that has already been foiled. It is a lovely butterfly. It has been foiled with 7/32nd's copper foil with a black back. I have a soldering iron ready to go in a soldering iron stand which is an absolute must because it's the only way to prevent yourself from really getting burned badly and I'm using a mini phaser which is going to control my temperature and as you can see it has a temperature gage on it and I have learned from soldering that a specific level of 60 is perfect for me. It's not too fast, it's not too slow which means it's not too hot, it's not too cold so I am going to wipe the tip of my very hot soldering iron on this dampened sponge. I'm going to use some liquid flux that I'm going to apply with a flux brush right to the copper foil and notice how I didn't do the outside edges, just the main pieces I'm going to solder. If this was a very large piece I still would do the same thing. I'm going to put my soldering iron right on the copper foil. When I get to this center piece here I'm going to have a big blob of solder which is not so easy to control and you need a lot more heat. The center of my tip is going to be the hottest place on the iron so I try and keep my solder there. I'm going slow enough to create a bead and fast enough so that I don't crack my glass. The neat thing about solder is you really can't mess up because you can always go back in later and fix it. So don't get nervous about it, just don't play in one spot too long because the glass will start to absorb the heat and you can crack it and heat cracks are very slight and small but you can see them in your finished pieces and they're not attractive. So what I'm doing now is I'm going back into the line that I just ran and I'm just making it have a little bead to it. The point of this is to try to make your copper foil piece have the appearance that it's clean and smooth like led cane would be. I'm using 50/50 solder today. Some people prefer to use 60/40 and if I'm doing a lamp or something that I'm fighting gravity I always use 60/40 but I want to go slow today so I can show you how to solder. 60/40 would be too fast for me to be able to do that. My line would just run and it would be perfect but it wouldn't really give me an opportunity to show you how to do different things so I'm taking my pattern out now from underneath. The pattern is a little bit burned and I've had experiences where if I leave it there too long it sticks the paper to the flux because it does go through it. When you're all done you're going to just, the last thing you're going to do is go around your outside edges. Try not to burn yourself, keep on your glasses, wash your hands, don't smoke or eat while you are soldering. Stay safe and have fun.


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